Is it 2016 yet? No, but daily news reports and, even more so, any glimpse into political maneuvering nationwide clearly show that a lot of work is already going into laying groundwork for the next race for president. Marquette Law School Poll results released Tuesday join in the early going, showing that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is at a strong advantage in Wisconsin among potential Democratic candidates, while the Republican field is pretty wide open. That said, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan drew the most support among Republicans in Wisconsin.
Charles Franklin, director of the poll and newly-named professor of law and public policy at the Law School, said the purpose of the presidential questions at this point wasn’t to try to predict what will happen in 2016 in Wisconsin. Rather, he said, it is to begin building a picture of how the race will evolve.
That said, the poll found that 27% of those who said they were Republican or lean Republican named Ryan as their preferred candidate. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was the choice of 21%, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker drew 16%, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was picked by 11%. Those under 10% included Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (7%); former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (5%); and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (1%).
Clinton was the preference of 62% of Democrats and those who said they lean Democratic. Vice President Joe Biden was the choice of 13%. Drawing less than 10% were Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (5%); New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (4%); Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (2%); Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (1%); and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (1%).
In other matters, 76% of those polled said they favored a two-year freeze in tuition at University of Wisconsin system campuses. Gov. Walker originally proposed increasing the state allocation to the system by $118 million, and 50% favored sticking with that figure, while 44% favored reducing it.
The poll found little major change from the Law School’s poll in March in opinion statewide on several other issues that will come to a head in coming weeks as the state budget is set for 2013-15. Overall, 48% of those polled favored expanding the private school voucher program beyond Milwaukee and Racine, where vouchers are now available. Those opposed to expanding vouchers or saying they want vouchers eliminated altogether totaled 44%. In March, the figures were 51% for expansion and 42% against.
Two-third of those polled (67%) favored one of several possibilities for increasing public school funding, with 29% saying public school funding should be held flat or cut. That compared to 72% and 25% in March.
But asked which they gave higher priority, increased school funding or property tax reductions, the overall sentiment was 49% for holding down property taxes and 46% for school spending.
Opposition to use of borrowing, gas taxes, or increased vehicle registration fees to pay for highway improvements was strong – more than 70% in each case. Delaying road projects was favored by 52% of those polled.
Support for expanding background checks for people who want to purchase guns remains high – 72% — but is down from March, when it was 81%. In the intervening time, a move to expand background checks was stopped in Congress.
The poll of 717 registered Wisconsin voters was conducted between May 6 and 9. Even in the several days since then, major stories have broken, including the IRS admitting it focused extra attention on groups such as Tea Party organizations and the Justice Department saying it had examined telephone records of many editors and reporters working for the Associated Press. Franklin said he expected that issues of trust in government would be part of upcoming polls.
Full results of the poll can be found by clicking here.